This morning we held one of our theological reflection groups for newly accredited ministers (NAM's). I look forward to these occasions as they are a good group of reflective practioners and invariably I come away enriched.
Sometimes I will provide some input, or invite someone in to speak on an issue, but also we invite the ministers themselves to contribute a paper on an aspect that they are exploring or raise an issue for discussion. Today we thought about the 'advantages and drawbacks for preaching of the use of the lectionary'. For many Baptists, the use of the lectionary isn't the default position and so this was more stimulating than it may sound and Malcolm, who provided the input, did a great job. And then Tom raised the issue of the place of leadership in the process of discernment within our congregational way of doing church. Again, this was thought-provoking.
Then, over lunch, Malcolm related an encounter with someone at his church. The man who had only recently started to attend asked the sort of question upon which you know a lot hangs! He asked, 'What are the three things critical for a healthy Christian life, and don't include Bible study and prayer?' How would you answer that question? I loved the answer Malcolm gave and was really impressed that, unlike me, he didn't need twenty-four hours to think it over! He said, retreat; vulnerable relationship with other believers in some way; and passion.
I guess that the person who asked the question didn't want stock answers, and was looking for some depth. I think he got it. I'm still wondering how I would answer, and it would be great to hear the thoughts of others, but remember 'don't include Bible study and prayer'!